8
votes
2answers
75k views

When to use “has lived” vs. “lived” vs. “had lived”

Jim has lived there. Jim lived there. Jim had lived there. Are there any differences? When do I use one or the other? I'm trying to teach this to a foreign person and am having a hard time....
4
votes
6answers
10k views

Does sympathy necessarily mean pity?

This one has bugged me for a while. I've always been under the impression that sympathy doesn't have to mean pity. But everyone else tells me I'm dead wrong. So does sympathy always mean pity?
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Did the term “multitasking” come from the computer realm?

Given my advancing years I remember when "multitasking" became a buzz-word in PC operating systems, notably with OS/2. Arguably, earlier version of Windows supported a multitasking as well but I don't ...
18
votes
4answers
40k views

Using “seldomly”

I'm not a native English speaker. If at all possible I try to use spell checkers while writing anything on the web hence using one in Firefox as well. Whenever I try to write "seldomly" it highlights ...
7
votes
2answers
6k views

Is “Should be *ing” a valid English phrasing?

I'm Portuguese and my girlfriend German. Because she is a Germanic-language native-speaker, she is constantly correcting my English. Though, often it is annoying that she corrects me in grammar ...
3
votes
2answers
26k views

Slang words for body parts [closed]

We all know the various slang words for bottoms, boobs and genitalia. Those are well covered here already. This question relates to slang words for the other parts of the body. What common slang ...
-2
votes
2answers
328 views

Plural of “Popeye” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Family Name Pluralization Okay, so this is kind of a strange question... but a group on my fraternity calls itself "Popeye" and they refer to themself als "Popeyers". But I ...
2
votes
2answers
594 views

Use of the term “maths” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Math” or “Maths”? As far as I know, the term "math" is a clipped form of the word mathematics. In other words, it's already plural. So is there ...
7
votes
5answers
14k views

Can one say “I should like” rather than “I would like”? Is the former grammatical?

My focus here is on the should in the sentence fragment "I should very much like...". Why is it there in place of would? It seems strange that should is used in the subjunctive mood there -- is it ...
14
votes
1answer
5k views

How to deal with abbreviations at the end of a question?

In a sentence like Should we host them on imgur et cetera? where I want to abbreviate the "et cetera", what is the correct punctuation? Using a period after the "etc." like mid sentence usages ...
34
votes
3answers
34k views

Why do people say “over-” and “underwhelmed” but never just “whelmed”?

We've all been overwhelmed with work, or seen an underwhelming movie... but it occurred to me that I've never heard anyone use the root word, whelm. whelm (verb) 1. to submerge; engulf. 2. to ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Should I use adjacent parentheses or a semicolon (or something else)?

In scientific writing it is common to use parentheses to refer to the details of statistical analyses at the end of a sentence. However, it is also common to refer to figures or tables this way. ...
1
vote
0answers
189 views

What is the meaning behind: ''Mind your Ps and Q's" - how did it originate? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What does it mean to mind your P's and Q's? I've heard mothers using this on the playground when talking to their children, but not sure what point they were trying ...
12
votes
1answer
538 views

Ordering of English sound changes in verbal morphology

As we all know, the Early Modern English 3sg verbal ending -eth has become -s in Modern English. This presumably happened in two steps: Elision of the unstressed e in the final syllable Changing ...
1
vote
4answers
3k views

“He does more than (is) necessary.”

Can someone diagram the sentences He does more than necessary. He does more than is necessary. please? (Say, using an X-bar tree.) Also, there seems to be a secondary clause in the sentences (or ...
5
votes
1answer
4k views

Speculative conditional: Why does it use the past tense or past perfect tense?

We use simple past to state a hypothetical present situation that we would like to speculate about (If they were here, I would be happy), past perfect for a hypothetical past (had they been here, I ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

“Wonder if won't”

I wonder if Diaz won't be scared of the KO power The quote is about Diaz fight with Daily. Daily has a big KO power, so the person is not sure if Diaz won't be scared of it and choose not to fight ...
2
votes
2answers
8k views

Can “latter” be used to refer to the last of a list of names that is more than 2? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Equivalent of “former” and “latter” for more than 2 items Can I use "the latter" to refer to the last name from a list of names that is more than 2? ...
9
votes
9answers
33k views

Is “a wide range of features” singular or plural?

In the office, we've been having a discussion about the grammar in a sentence and have differing opinions about what is right and what is wrong... It is a very minor issue but is still bugging me :) ...
15
votes
6answers
3k views

Is “so” a pronoun?

Reminded by What is the grammatical function of so in this sentence, something that has always bothered me is that the word "so" can be used as a pronoun: It looks like rain Responding with: ...
5
votes
3answers
892 views

What is an “Open loop”?

In "Getting Things Done", David Allen refers to "Open Loops", meaning things that are incomplete. Q: What past reference to an "Open loop" is he alluding to? Is that phrase "Open Loop" something ...
0
votes
3answers
13k views

Plural of “A good night's sleep”

Is it possible to have a plural of "A good night's sleep"? Would "Some good nights' sleep" be correct? Edit: I'm thinking specifically in the sentence: "I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep"
3
votes
3answers
776 views

What are the guidelines for usage of “will” and “is/are going to”?

I use them interchangeably, however I'd like to know when one is better or more appropriate than the other.
4
votes
3answers
4k views

Is it correct to write “is done fully automatically” or “is done fully automatic”?

Google gives me support from 19,200 on "is done fully automatically" and 35,200 on "is done fully automatic".
2
votes
4answers
78k views

Formal alternative for “like” and “such as”?

Is there a more formal way of saying: "In most western countries, such as the United States, an increased level of ... has been observed." Or should such a sentence be rephrased completely?
6
votes
6answers
1k views

Is there a word for someone who is a lover of the incidental or coincidence?

Bit of a weird one. I'm trying to write a song at the moment and I have the subject sorted but now I want to find out if there is a word for it. I find myself tending to like melodies and lyrics that ...
7
votes
5answers
16k views

Difference between “somewhere” and “anywhere”

Do you live anywhere near him? Do you live somewhere near him? Is there any difference between these two sentences?
2
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the grammatical function of 'so' in this example? [closed]

"Mary is so funny." What is the grammatical function of 'so' in this example?
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Bare infinitive and gerund participle

I saw him kick the stone. According to my reference book this sentence is grammatically correct even though the verb 'kick' is in present tense while the action has already happened. If I write ...
13
votes
7answers
2k views

Are there commonly used words to denote different gradations of friendship in English?

In English there is only one word for grade of friendship: friends. All of you agree that friends are different: with some of them you just drank beer few times, other you know for many years and you ...
1
vote
1answer
614 views

How to describe narrated action?

Let's say we have a poem that has a first-person point of view and then goes like: I have eaten the cookies Now, when I write about this poem and want to describe the action in the poem, would ...
18
votes
3answers
12k views

Gay (homosexual) and gay (happy)

When did the main meaning of the word 'gay' shift from happy to homosexual? How did the meaning evolve, if there is a relation between the two?
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Use “or” or “nor”? [duplicate]

I've always wondered this but never asked. Given this statement: Energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Should it be or or nor? This is on Wikipedia so they are probably correct in saying ...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

What is it called when the word “sorry” is not used for apologizing?

When I use the word "sorry" for something I did wrong I'm sorry I bumped into you. I would be apologizing. However, when I used the word "sorry" to express pity for something that is not ...
14
votes
4answers
23k views

What is the origin of the phrase ‘By the by…’?

What is the origin of the phrase 'By the by...'?
9
votes
7answers
2k views

Why are there so few words in English that are derived from Welsh?

Why are there so few words in English that are derived from Welsh? Wikipedia mentions only 11.
5
votes
2answers
14k views

Can the word ‘genius’ be used as an adjective?

Can the word 'genius' be used as an adjective? For example: 'A genius plan' or 'This is a genius piece of work'?
4
votes
1answer
214 views

Does anybody know the origin of the phrase ‘clued up’?

Does anybody know the origin of the phrase 'clued up'?
4
votes
2answers
3k views

“Common” or “usual”?

A few years ago I had a roommate who was a French guy. He was learning English and occasionally asked me to clarify some differences. One question he asked me was the difference between "common" and "...
4
votes
4answers
12k views

Usage of the future subjunctive

In the Wikipedia article about the subjunctive mood, I read that the future subjunctive of own for the first person singular is I were to own. In which situations is the future subjunctive used in ...
5
votes
2answers
28k views

“Query” vs. “Inquiry”

What is the difference between the words "inquiry" and "query?" I tend to associate the latter with technology (e.g., search engine queries), but I'm not sure what the actual meaning is.
16
votes
5answers
29k views

Punctuation after “P.S.”

Somewhere in the craggy quagmire of my memory, I seem to recall that the nuns of my grade school days taught me that a P.S. (post script) is followed by a colon, i.e. P.S.: Alas, the periods after ...
9
votes
3answers
7k views

How was 'Sundae' derived from 'Sunday'?

On Sunday, April 3,2011, Google displayed a commemorative graphic for the 119th anniversary of the first documented case of the Ice Cream Sunday. (Image comes from: http://www.google.com/logos/2011/...
14
votes
3answers
6k views

Why do we say “honeymoon” instead of “honeymonth”?

I was curious about the etymology of the word honeymoon and found out that its sense was partially literal (serving honey for the couple), and partially metaphorical (sweet and happy times). But I ...
5
votes
4answers
19k views

Does the phrase “legend has it” mean a legend is factually accurate?

What does the term "legend has it" specifically mean? Does it just mean "There is a legend which says...", or does it mean "There is a legend which is actually accurate in saying..."? My ...
3
votes
6answers
5k views

Positive-sounding substitute for “dull”/“boring”?

I was recently writing a testimonial, and I wanted a positive substitute for those words. The adjective is for describing the guy in question (i.e. He is a _____ guy). Any ideas?
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Etymology of “housework” and “homework”

In American English (perhaps British as well), "housework" and "homework" have different meanings. "Housework" refers to working around the house, such as dusting, vacuuming, etc., whereas "homework" ...
4
votes
8answers
24k views

Which saying is correct?

I've been having a small argument with a family member. She insists "It's no skin off my teeth" is the correct saying, though I've only heard "It's no skin off my nose" before. Which saying is more "...
4
votes
2answers
101 views

Use of 'blancbec' in English

In the March 4 issue of TLS a Mr. Brown wrote a letter recalling how when he was an undergraduate at Columbia and Allen Ginsberg came to give a reading, it was in fact the students that heaped scorn ...
21
votes
9answers
8k views

Why do we “get cold feet”?

A sudden loss of nerve when embarked on a venture is called cold feet. Does anyone know why that should be? An etymology is suggested at englishdaily626. If your 'feet' are 'cold', you can't walk ...

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